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Stage banjos

Posted by banjo25 on Wednesday, March 21, 2007

This has always confused me so hopefully somebody can help me make sense of it. I keep hearing over and over that I should buy a "stage banjo" to play out at shows. And the comment that typically follows is why don't I get a $100-$150 Fender or something and just use it for the road and keep my Gibson at home.

There are also places to rent stage banjos, basically a low quality instrument thta will stay in tune but not much else.

So ... why in the world would you want to play a crappy banjo in front of a lot of people if you have a good one at home?

Seems to me like the stage banjo would be for practice and the good banjo would be for shows.


2 comments on “Stage banjos”

maryzcox Says:
Wednesday, March 21, 2007 @11:49:16 AM

Hmm--that sounds backwards!  I always save my really fancy banjos for nighttime concerts--that way lots of folks get to see and hear them. For day time and workshops, I use really good banjos--but ones without gold and fancy inlay because folks only seem to notice the sound during the day--but enjoy the flash on a nighttime stage. :)

Best wishes,

Mary Z. Cox

ps. Don't think its a good idea to use a cheap banjo at all unless you happen to be a dealer and that's what you sell. :)

Paul Bock Says:
Wednesday, March 21, 2007 @8:55:55 PM

     IMO, once you become good enough to play with a group in public you should seriously consider buying a good-quality banjo if you don't yet have one, and that's what you should play on stage and use for most of your practice, especially reheasals for shows.  All banjos feel a little different and you want to go on stage with the maximum comfort level.

     Your stage banjo should have the feel AND the sound that you're comfortable with.  This doesn't mean that it has to be a multi-kilobuck instrument, although if there is one that really floats your boat and that's what it costs, go for it!  Tom Adams has played a Gold Star GF-100W his entire career (it only cost $550 in 1981) and he's a 3-time IBMA Banjo Player of the Year, so you can do quite well with a lower-cost instrument if that's what you like the sound of and that feels "right."  Remember that many of the greats of the bygone era played the same banjo all the time on stage and likely used it for practice as well.

     Now, if you are worried about *TRAVELING* with a banjo, especially by air where you have to check the banjo in as luggage, you might want to safeguard a really, really expensive banjo or one that is a "classic" collectible by traveling with something else.  But the bottom line is that you want the maximum comfort level on stage and that usually equates to the banjo you most enjoy playing.      

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